The MARVEN Project: The Portuguese biotechnological database for marine animal venoms and toxins

Marine biotechnology is one of the main pillars of the ‘Blue Growth Strategy’ with which the European Union aims at taking the lead of sustainable and competitive exploitation of marine resources. Indeed, novel marine bioproducts are being described every year, which illustrates the potential of the oceans’ inherent biodiversity as an endless source of high-value compounds. Among these, biological toxins, due to their ability to interact with specific biological pathways, are prized bioproducts that can offer a sustainable alternative to the laborious, risky and costly process of designing synthetic drugs for a wide range of purposes: from ‘eco-friendly’ pesticides and anti-foulants to painkillers, antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs. Portugal, who benefits from the unique biodiversity generated by the Atlantic and Mediterranean confluence, is in a prime position to join the frontline of sustainable exploitation of the seas. 

The MARVEN project (January 2020 to December 2021), which is a partnership between several research groups of UCIBIO and IPMA, led by the SeaTox Lab, has been designed to build the foundations for a permanent, dynamic and ever-evolving database of marine animal toxins from the Portuguese coast, being devised from the start as a direct tool to meet the needs of industrialists and other societal stakeholders. The project has been approved for funding by Fundo Azul, being awarded with a total of c.a. 200K EUR.



Pedro M. Costa (Coordinator)

Alexandra R. Fernandes

Pedro V. Baptista

Ana Rita Grosso

Mariaelena D'Ambrosio

Ana P. Rodrigo

Carla Martins

Cátia Gonçalves


Jorge Lobo Arteaga (Co-coordinator)

Maria José Gaudêncio

Miriam Tuaty-Guerra

Publications from project MARVEN

GONÇALVES, C., ALVES DE MATOS, A.P. & COSTA, P.M. (2023, in press). Comparative analysis of the jaw apparatus of three marine annelids using scanning electron microscopy: Microstructure and elemental composition. Journal of Anatomy (doi: 10.1111/joa.13910).

MOUTINHO CABRAL, I., MADEIRA C., GROSSO, A.R. & COSTA, P.M. (2022). A drug discovery approach based on comparative transcriptomics between two toxin-secreting marine annelids: Glycera alba and Hediste diversicolor. Molecular Omics 18, 731-744 (doi: 10.1039/D2MO00138A)

D’AMBROSIO, M., GONÇALVES, C., CALMÃO, M., RODRIGUES, M. & COSTA, P.M. (2021). Localization and bioreactivity of cysteine-rich secretions in the marine gastropod Nucella lapillus. Marine Drugs 19, 276. (doi: 10.3390/md19050276)

GONÇALVES, C. & COSTA, P.M. (2021). Cephalotoxins: A hotspot for marine bioprospecting? Frontiers in Marine Science 8, 647344. (doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.647344)

D'AMBROSIO, M., SANTOS, A.C., ALEJO-ARMIJO, A., PAROLA, J. & COSTA, P.M. (2020). Light-mediated toxicity of porphyrin-like pigments from a marine polychaeta. Marine Drugs 18, 302. (doi: 10.3390/md18060302)

Useful links

The MARVEN Project @IPMA